Healthy Vegetarian Lunch Ideas For School

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Are you looking for healthy vegetarian lunch ideas for school? These recipes will fill you up and fuel your brain.

By following these healthy vegetarian lunch ideas for school from the library of knowledge, you’ll be providing yourself with a foolproof plan to keep your immune system strong and improve your general health.

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s tempting to grab a frozen pizza or burger but you can make healthy vegetarian lunch ideas that taste great and are good for you. It’s important to eat well as part of your busy day and here we’ll look at some healthy meals and snacks which are vegetarian at lunchtime.

Healthy Vegetarian Lunch Ideas For School

There are two different types of school lunches: the bento-box style that have small relatively equal-size portions of several items and the traditional meal with one main entree + a few sides.

I’ve found that the meal-type school lunches work best for my own kids at this younger age because they can focus on trying to finish one thing as opposed to an assortment of items.  That way if they don’t end up finishing their sides, I’d still feel like they had enough of a lunch.  It goes back to that concept of giving them too many choices. And if your kids are anything like mine (especially my youngest), they end up chatting a lot with their friends during lunch and get distracted pretty easily as it is.

On the flip side, meal-type school lunches can appear quite boring to some kids and not as exciting to eat. The bento-box style may also at times be easier to pack since you’re not worrying about having one main item to send each day.

What’s best for your kids?  What motivates them to finish their lunches at school?  What types of foods are they into? Are they picky eaters?

My Kids School Lunches

Although it’s only been 3 weeks, my 7 year old is now at a stage where he’s coming back with his school lunches completely empty (finally)!

My 5-year old on the other hand…let’s just say we’re still working on it, haha! If I were to give her some raw hard veggies in a bento-style lunchbox, she’d probably still be gnawing on the carrots and broccoli the entire day if allowed. She’s still getting used to eating her lunch in a shorter amount of time while socializing. I guess it doesn’t help that she’s in a class full of her friends 🙂  But hey…that’s what kindergarten is all about anyway right?? Having fun, socializing, and hoping they learn something along the way.

50% of my decision on what to pack for school lunch is based on what I have in the fridge, how much time I have to pack it, and whether or not I planned ahead of time (which doesn’t happen very often).

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Getting Kids To Eat Their School Lunch

I’m that mom that needs to make sure the kids are getting their nutrition, fueling their bodies, and hydrating throughout the day. It’s even more important for kids at a young age to get into a habit of eating right and knowing what they’re putting into their bodies.

My kids are very high energy. They love playing sports and their brains are constantly working. So if they come home from school not having eaten any proper snack or lunch, and/or not having drank enough water, it effects them the rest of the day.

Here are a few tips on getting your kids to eat their school lunch:

  • Figure out what types of foods they are into. Are they picky eaters? If so, maybe come up with 3-6 different ideas and just rotate through them. Give them a few weeks, try new ideas (more than once), and see what works best.
  • Talk to them. Ask them why they didn’t finish their lunch. Maybe they loved what you packed but were just too busy chatting (ahem…both my kids), or maybe they didn’t like one part you can easy sub out.
  • Start small. Don’t over-pack. It can be overwhelming for a kid to feel like they have to finish all of the food you packed. Make it achievable so that they get excited when they finish.
  • Incentives and Motivations. Just like most things, kids just need to get into the habit of eating their lunch at school. What motivates them to finish? Give them incentives. I used to make extra TV time lunch charts for my son for when he finished his lunch (or even ate half of it, if that’s where your kid is at).
  • Talk to their teachers. This is especially helpful when they are in preschool or kindergarten. Their teachers can help motivate them and remind/encourage them before they’re dismissed for lunch each day. Sometimes that’s really all it takes, especially for the younger ones.
  • Pack a Treat. I always pack a small treat with lunch to encourage them to finish.
  • Include fun notes or jokes. Make school lunch fun by including easy notes, stickers, and/or jokes! My kids love them!
  • Don’t stress. The start of school brings all sorts of changes for kids, so don’t stress out. It takes some time to get into a good routine, and eventually they’ll realize they’re hungry 🙂

School Lunch Supplies

I purposefully did not title this section ‘my favorite lunch supplies’ because to be honest, I haven’t tried all there is out there. I’ve seen some pretty neat lunchboxes from several brands (such as Planetbox, Yumbox, Lunchbots, etc.). Until I try them out, here are the school lunch supplies I currently use and love for my kids:

  • Kids Water Bottles
  • Spoons & Forks (I refuse to send them with our standard kitchen utensils since I don’t always get them back ha)
  • Sandwich box containers – sandwiches, pizza, burritos, tacos, or any other item that doesn’t need to be warm
  • Split food storage containers – snacks and sides
  • Small storage containers – sides
  • 16oz. Insulated container– keeps things warm (soup, pasta, etc.)

For a few of the easy school lunches below, you’ll see me using these containers with 3-compartments. I stopped using them early on mainly because of their size and durability.

School Lunch Made Easy

Let’s face it, no matter how prepared you are, figuring out what to pack for school lunches isn’t always easy.

I’m a morning person. I like to wake up early, get my workout in, shower, and get ready before the kids go off to school. That leaves me with about 25 minutes to eat my own breakfast, make sure the kids finish theirs, pack everything, and get them out the door!

I’m also not one who preps the night before. Once the kids hit their pillows at night, it’s me-time and I’m done for the night as far as kid-stuff goes.

So How Can You Make School Lunches Easy?

Here’s what works for me. Two days out of the week we do sandwiches (peanut-butter-jelly, almond-butter-jelly, or a few other staples I share below). The other three days are based on what I have available. Many times it’s leftovers from dinner if I think the kids will eat it at school, and other times it’s burritos/tacos, pulling a sauce out of the freezer for a quick pasta, or a bento-style lunch box if I don’t have a main. I try to give them a variety of different foods throughout the week to form well-balanced meals that fit our personal diet.

Snack is always one fruit + something else (such as pretzels, bars, coconut oil potato chips, veggies, sweet potato chips, vegan cheese crackers, banana chips, sesame sticks, roasted seaweed chips, etc.).

So really it’s those 3 additional days every week where I need to come up with something other than a sandwich. And all you really need are a few ideas that you know your kids will love. I, for one, am definitely not going to come up with unique ideas for them every single day, so I just find those 10-15 easy school lunches and keep rotating throughout the year!

Easy Right?

If you’re still shaking your head, I’ve pulled together 10 easy school lunch ideas to share with you guys today! Hopefully you’ll find a few you love or it’ll give you some inspiration on what to pack for your own kids. And don’t forget, this is the first of a series of school lunch posts I’ll be doing throughout the year, so there’s still more coming your way!

Easy School Lunch Ideas (Vegan)

Sandwiches And Wraps

  • Upgraded PB&J: any whole grain bread, nut butter, banana/raspberries/strawberries
  • Nut Butter Banana Wrap: whole wheat tortilla, nut butter, whole banana; roll up and slice into pinwheels or leave whole
  • Veggie Wrap: whole wheat tortilla, any spread, any veggies, cheese (optional); roll up and slice into pinwheels or leave whole
    • Spread: hummus, pesto, salad dressing, guacamole, cream cheese
    • Veggies: spinach, shredded carrots, diced tomatoes, diced bell peppers, chopped broccoli, avocado
    • Cheese: shredded, sliced, or crumbled
  • Hummus Sandwich: whole grain bread, hummus, any veggies

Build-Your-Own Concepts

Kids love the ability to personalize their own meals, so consider packing the components of a dish and then letting them assemble it. Bonus! This helps cut down on your prep time because you don’t have to do the assembly!

  • Yogurt Parfait: fresh fruit, yogurt, granola or granola clusters
  • Tacos: tortillas, beans, shredded cheese, veggies, salsa
  • Tostadas: baked tortillas, non-refried beans, veggies, guacamole
  • Pizza: whole grain English muffin, marinara, shredded cheese
  • Deconstructed Pasta Salad: whole grain pasta, mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, dressing

Salads

  • Traditional Green Salad: any leafy green, chopped or shredded veggies, fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, cheese, dressing on the side
  • Grain Salads: cooked whole grain, beans, chopped vegetables, toasted nuts, cheese, fresh herbs, vinaigrette
  • Pasta Salad: whole grain pasta, veggies, cheese, sauce or extra virgin olive oil
    • Whole Grain Pasta: penne, rotini, orzo, macaroni
    • Veggies: cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, olives
    • Sauce: marinara, pesto, vinaigrette, extra virgin olive oil
    • Cheese: mini mozzarella balls, shredded cheese, crumbled cheese

Snack Foods

Build a meal of an assortment of finger foods! Bentgo boxes work great for these meals. Consider including the following:

  • Cheese: cubed, string, or slices
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Fruit: fresh or dried
  • Veggies: cooked, fresh, or beans
  • Baked Goods: muffins, bars, oatmeal cups, bread
  • Energy Bites 
  • Dips: nut butter, hummus, sauces, salsa
  • Whole Grain Foods: crackers, pretzels, rice cakes, or tortilla chips
  • Nuts or Trail Mix
  • Yogurt

For guidance on best ingredients to purchase and include, check out our ingredient guide.

Leftovers

If your kid will eat cold leftovers or a microwave is available, then pack them! Some good options include:

  • Hummus Pizza or Classic Pizza
  • Quesadillas
  • Turkey Meatballs
  • Salmon Burger Sliders
  • Burritos
  • One Pan Mexican Quinoa Skillet

Side Dishes

Don’t forget the sides! Make sure to include fruit and vegetables if they aren’t already a major part of the entree.

  • Fresh and/or dried fruit: grapes, blueberries, clementines, apple slices
  • Fresh vegetables: sliced cucumbers, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, sugar snap peas, sliced bell peppers
  • Black Bean Corn Salad
  • Cheese: shredded, sliced, string
  • Nuts or seeds (if allowed)

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